Mark your calendars: the NHL Draft and All-Star Game are coming to Seattle.
In a press conference on Wednesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters the league has already begun planning an All-Star game in the Emerald City.
“We’ve promised an All-Star Game to Seattle within seven years of playing,” Bettman said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to wait seven years. We’ve got to look at the scheduling, both ours and in terms of the city’s availability, to host all of our guests, hotels and everything. But we’re going to be bringing league events here.
“This is where we want to be.”
The news only gets better, as the league said it’s also exploring an appropriate time to bring the NHL Draft to Seattle.
“We need to have an expansion draft, so we’re looking at the possibilities.” Bettman said. “The draft, I’d guess, will be sooner than the All-Star game.”
This is exciting news for hockey fans in the Puget Sound, who found out less than a month ago that Seattle had been awarded the league’s 32nd franchise, which will begin playing in a remodeled KeyArena during the 2021-22 season.
The jury is still out, however, on Seattle’s franchise name. While the Sockeyes, Metropolitans and Kraken are still in the mix, the NHL Seattle leadership team says they will take their time finding the right identity for the franchise.
NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke says that in 60 days, the group will roll out a portal for depositors, which gives them the opportunity to weigh in on important items such as the team names.
“Their fingerprints are going to be all over this franchise,” Leiweke says. “At the end of the day, they are the people that gave wind to this franchise. In that process, we absolutely get the team name and I would expect sometime in 2019 we roll that out.”
Seattle’s expansion franchise will take the ice at the newly-improved KeyArena beginning 2021.